Most Major League baseball teams have amended a baseball custom since 9/11. The traditional singing of Take Me Out to the Ball Game is now preceded during the seventh-inning stretch by a rendition of God Bless America at most ball parks.
On Saturday, members of the U.S. military combined forces with Americas pastime for the 2014 Seattle Mariners Salute to Armed Forces Night at Safeco Field in Seattle, which coincided with the teams matchup against the Texas Rangers.
Air Force Reservist, Tech. Sgt. Freddie Garza, 446th Security Forces Squadron, sang God Bless America after two weeks of preparation. Garza received a loud cheer and ovation after singing the American standard from behind home plate at Safeco Field.
It was the biggest performance of his life, he said.
Ive been singing since around 5 years old, said Garza, who comes from a family of singers.
Garza is director of the childrens choir at his church. He credits his own confidence to singing in church. And while he grew, he was also watching the Mariners, his favorite Major League team.
I was a Mariners fan back when they had Ken Griffey, Jr., said Garza, who played baseball from little league until high school.
Garza wasnt the only service member who had received a special inviatation from the Mariners. Three 446th AW Reservists stood on the baseline during the National Anthem: Senior Airman Bonn Abad and Airman Austin Jodzko of the 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and Senior Airman Sheriah Coburn, 446th Maintenance Group. Major Marc Miller of the 97th Airlift Squadron threw out the first pitch.
The event was a celebration of the sacrifices of all veterans and service members.